“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Kingstowne in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

The Spy with the Glass Eye

The Spy with the Glass Eye Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, August 12, 2017
1. The Spy with the Glass Eye Marker
In early January 1862, Colonel Wade Hampton, with a small detachment of cavalrymen crossed the Occoquan River, and rode towards Pohick Church looking for a fight. After going only a few miles beyond the church on Telegraph Road, it encountered a small body of Union cavalry that immediately turned towards Alexandria and fled with Hampton and his men in hot pursuit. Hampton was reaching the top hill, a Texas scout dashed out from the left hand side of the road informing him to stop because he was leading his men into a Union ambush at the bottom of the hill. Heeding the warning, Hampton immediately halted and formed the squadron at the top of Potter’s Hill.

The enemy stayed concealed hoping that the Confederates were forming to charge them. When the Union troops realized the Confederates were not going to enter their trap they started cursing and shaking their sabers at the Southerners. Then both sides started firing at each other with the Union troops using Sharp’s carbines and the Confederates using pistols. The Union sharpshooters shot one of Hampton’s men in the face and one or two others were slightly wounded, including several horses. Hampton then decided to retreat back across the Occoquan.

The scout that warned Colonel Hampton was none other than John Burke, who was known as “the spy with the glass
The Spy with the Glass Eye Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, August 12, 2017
2. The Spy with the Glass Eye Marker
Old Beulah Street is in the background. Hilltop Village Center Drive is out of frame on the right.
eye!” If it had not been for Burke’s timely warning, many Confederates, including Hampton himself may have lost their lives that day at Potter’s Hill. Hampton would go on to obtain the rank of lieutenant general and after the war he would be elected governor of South Carolina.
Erected by Franconia Museum.
Location. 38° 44.55′ N, 77° 9.741′ W. Marker is in Kingstowne, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker is on Old Beulah Street near Hilltop Village Center Drive, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. The marker does not face the street. Marker is in this post office area: Alexandria VA 22315, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Potter’s Hill (a few steps from this marker); Newington (approx. 1.1 miles away); Mount Air (approx. 1½ miles away); Mount Air Historic Site (approx. 1½ miles away); Carrolltown (approx. 1.6 miles away); Laurel Grove Colored School and Church (approx. 1.8 miles away); Fort Belvoir (approx. 2.4 miles away); Belvoir (approx. 2.4 miles away).
More about this marker. The marker has three illustrations. On the left is a portrait of Colonel Wade Hampton. On the right is a portrait of “Colonel John Burke, the spy with the glass eye.” Below the text is an un-captioned drawing of confederate cavalry troops at gallop.
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia Entry for John Burke. “He rode with J. E. B. Stuart around McClellan’s army in 1862. Burke traveled behind Union lines as far as New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. He used disguises, frequently the uniform of a Union officer, and would change the color of his artificial eye. He was able to provide Lee with valuable information about Union forces and dispositions. His most daring adventure came after he was apprehended in Philadelphia. He was placed under guard, in irons and handcuffs. As the train to Washington crossed a high trestle, he jumped into the river and made his way back to Lee.” (Submitted on August 12, 2017.) 

2. Wikipedia entry for Wade Hampton. “Although he had no military experience, his years of managing plantations and serving in state government were considered signs of leadership. As was also the case in northern regiments, the elite were commissioned based on their social standing and were also expected to finance military units. Hampton organized and partially financed the unit known as "Hampton's Legion," which consisted of six companies of infantry, four companies of cavalry, and one battery of artillery. He personally paid for all the weapons for the Legion.” (Submitted on August 12, 2017.) 
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page was last revised on August 23, 2017. This page originally submitted on August 12, 2017, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 210 times since then and 123 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 12, 2017, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
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